David's Broken Hallelujah - Psalm 34

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David praised the Lord even when he was in a dark place.

Introduction: How many here have ever done anything that was completely foolish when you were growing up?
I remember lots of foolish things that I did as a teenager.
My daddy bought us all cars when we turned 16. He bought my brothers and sister classic mustangs. My brother had a 64-1/2, my sister had a 65 with a 289 V8 and the pony interior. My half brother had a 66 fast back.
He bought me a 1976 Mach 1 Mustang - you know, the one that looked like an oversized Pinto. It did have a V-6 though. Woohoo.
His philosophy was that he couldn’t keep us from drag racing with our friends, but he could give us cars that would not win.
That car would do about 120 by the way.
Teenagers, don’t try this at home, OK.
One day when I left school with two of my friends in the car and we got out on HWY 158. I thought I would try to impress them so I floored it.
As we were cruising down the road at about 110, we popped over the top of the hill only to see a big ol’ orange school bus at full stop about 2-1/2 football field lengths away.
Under normal circumstances, everything would have been fine. At 110, not so much. I literally stood on the brake pedal.
We came to a screeching halt about 5 feet away from the rear bumper of that school bus.
You could smell the brakes.
My buddies were as white as sheets and their eyes were bugging out of their heads.
They say that God looks out for fools and little children. I don’t know if that’s true, but I know I will NEVER test him in that way again.
As we look at this psalm today, David is praising God for his deliverance even though David had messed up. The good news is that God is faithful even when we act a fool. Can I get an Amen?
Background: Notice the introduction to this Psalm that some unknown scribe penned to describe the circumstances that led David to write this Psalm:
“Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.”
This throws us back to an incident in the life of David who had not yet assumed the role of King and he had to run from King Saul. 1 Samuel 21-22 record this incident when David was in fear for his life from King Saul.
He ran away to Gath, of all places.
Gath was the home of the Philistines and the hometown of Goliath. He ran from one enemy straight into the arms of another. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
On top of that, David had visited Ahemilech the priest prior to his departure who gave him bread and the sword of Goliath to take with him.
So David came rolling up into Gath by himself carrying the sword of Goliath the Philistine champion. Talk about Bravado!
1 Samuel 21:11 ESV
And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?”
“They see me rollin, they hatin...”
Many commentators believe that David was completely out of God’s will when he did all of this. He probably was! In that moment, He ran out of fear for his life instead of trusting God to deliver him.
1 Samuel 21:12–15 ESV
And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”
Essentially, the king was saying, “I’ve got enough nut cases around this looney bin…I don’t need another one.”
So David was able to escape from king Achish to the cave of Adullam where he may have written this Psalm of Thanksgiving.

A Song of Praise (vv. 1-10)

I’m gonna jump down to verse 4 because I believe it is key to understanding this section of the Psalm.
Psalm 34:4 ESV
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
David sought, God answered, and God delivered him.
Psalm 34:6 ESV
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
Whether or not David acting crazy was of God, or of David, we don’t know…but one thing is for sure, David gave the credit to the one of whom credit was due - GOD.
God delivered David! No one else did, especially David. And God did so in spite of David’s disobedience and lack of faith!
This Psalm is for the ones who have reached rock bottom, only to discover that God is the rock at the bottom!
You have either been there, you are there, or you will be there soon.
Even in the darkest times, King David shows you how to get your praise on.
God can turn your test into a testimony!
God can turn your trial into triumph!
God can turn your trembling into tranquility!
You may have tripped up, but God says you ain’t tapped out my friend!
David turned his cave into a cathedral of praise.
It’s easy to praise God when everything is going well. David paused to praise God even when he was in fear for his life. If you find yourself in a dark cave right now, turn on the light of praise! Give God glory!
Be like David. David said that he would extol the Lord at ALL TIMES. His praise will continually be in his mouth.
Not only that, But David invited others to join him in praise.
Psalm 34:3 ESV
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
“The person who has experienced God’s mercy naturally looks to others to praise God with him. Corporate worship is one of the natural instincts of the new life of Christ in God’s people.”
James Montgomery Boice, Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 294.
When it says, “magnify the Lord with me...” It doesn’t mean that we can make God any bigger. But we can make our perception and understanding of him bigger.
Psalm 34:7 ESV
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
God protected David by surrounding him with a mighty host of angels. Some say this could be referring to The Angel of the Lord as in a Theophany (preincarnate appearance of Christ). Regardless of your interpretation, God dispatched help from heaven to watch over David. David was delivered with divine assistance.
Psalm 34:8 ESV
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
For those who might be skeptical or might not know how Good God is, David invites them to Taste and See how Good God is. I invite you today to taste and see the goodness of God if you don’t know.
Illus. How many here like sushi? Where I come from in Northampton County, we call that bait. Seriously though, for the longest time I said that I didn’t like sushi. The reason why is because my first taste of sushi was on an airline flight to the Philippines. I don’t know what that was, but it was not sushi. Recently, I got adventurous and tried sushi again. Now I like sushi.
Maybe it’s a little irreverent to compare God to good food, I don’t know. The point is this, don’t knock God until you try God! You got to taste him to testify!

A Sermon to Be Preached (vv. 11-18)

Now as David fled to the cave of Adullam, we see something interesting happen:
1 Samuel 22:1–2 ESV
David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.
David had nowhere else to go. He couldn’t return to the palace. He couldn’t return to Samuel, or Jonathan, or to the house of the Lord. He went to this humble cave. Adullam means refuge, by the way.
It was there that a small band of about 400 men, mostly losers, gathered under David’s leadership. These were not people that David would have picked. But, they were called of God to join David in the work that had to be done.
David became their captain. In this sense, David became a type of Christ as those who were weary and heavy laden gathered to him.
God never called David to the work alone. That is what got him in trouble as he ran from Saul to Gath. No, God gathered a team to David and David equipped them to serve. I can see him there in that cave teaching these men the recent lessons of faith that he had learned.
Psalm 34:11 ESV
Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
The first point of that sermon was the fear of the Lord.
Proverbs 9:10 ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
This is not the fear of the Lord in the sense of reverence or awe, this is the fear of the Lord in relation to ones actions. It’s about obedience.
Deuteronomy 6:1–2 ESV
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.
David wrote what man is there that desires life and loves many days that he may see good? A promise from God.
This part gives us the practical side of the Fear of the Lord. If you have the fear of the Lord in your heart, this is what it will look like:
You will keep your tongue from evil...
James 1:26 ESV
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
Also, they will keep their lips from speaking deceit.
I find it interesting that David mentions that because when he went to Ahemilech the priest in Nob, David lied big time in order to get food (The shewbread). Perhaps David saw the error of his ways.
Turn from evil and do good. That is true repentance…to turn from your own way and start going God’s way.
Seek peace and pursue it. A person who fears the Lord ought to seek peace with God and with man whenever possible.
Colossians 1:19–20 ESV
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Christ is the one who makes reconciliation possible.
David also wanted people to understand that God watches over the righteous, over those who fear the Lord, but his face was against those who do evil.
Sometimes when we look at this world, we wonder why is seems that wicked people prosper. David assures us that if they continue to do evil, God will cut the memory of them from the earth.
Finally, The Lord is near to those who are broken hearted.
Even though David was still young at this point, he knew what it was to be brokenhearted.
Maybe today you are brokenhearted over some situation. Something bad has happened to you. We seem to have this false view that when things go sideways in our life that God is angry with us.
That is what the devil wants us to think - that God is capricious. No, he is patient and merciful.
Illus. I talked with a person the other day who said they wanted to get back on God’s good side. A lot of bad things had happened to them including becoming homeless. That is what the pagans did. Drought came and they thought that the gods were punishing them. They offered up some kind of sacrificial offering to appease the gods and get back on their good side.
Lamentations 3:22–23 ESV
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord delivers!

A Salvation Worth Proclaiming (vv. 19-22)

One thing we need to takeaway from this Psalm is that God has not promised us a trouble free life.
David said MANY are the afflictions of the righteous. “Well, I got saved…now my troubles are over.” uhhh…that’s not how this works.
Boice in his commentary wrote: “Deliverance is one thing. Exemption from trouble is another.
Those afflictions are meant to refine us. To purify us. To purge us. To draw us closer to God. So, they are necessary.
But God delivers us out of them all.
Psalm 34:20 is interesting. It says that God keeps the bones of the righteous unbroken. Where have we heard that before?
John 19:31–33 ESV
Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
John referred to this Psalm when he wrote about the crucifixion account!
The greatest affliction we face is the affliction of death caused by our sin. But, God provided deliverance through the Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Psalm 34:22 ESV
The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
To redeem means to ransom, to buy, to cause the freedom or release of a person from bondage or ownership. Sin enslaves us but Jesus can save us.
Isaiah 53:4–5 ESV
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
Because of the redemption that is freely offered as a gift from God, there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ! If you have turned from your sin to follow him, he has promised to free you.
Romans 8:1 ESV
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Are you in Christ today? Can you say you have experienced his saving grace? If not, what is hindering you from calling upon the name of the Lord?
Psalm 34:17 ESV
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
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